The July 4th post brought a plethera of summer responses, and it also brought this quintessential image by Tyler Robbins.
Tyler has Mid-Western roots, receiving his BFA and MFA from University of Wisconsin Madison, and currently residing in Sun Prarie, WI. Tyler's straightforward approach to making art is refreshingly honest. He shares his grilling expertise, his garage filled with lawn mowers and tricycles, his gardening, the chair where he knocks back a few beers. He also shows us his world of brilliant colors, blue skies, and real life. Suburban has become an identity for myself and my work, for better or for worse and I have spent a lot of time contemplating the implications where I am and what I do when I am in my own domestic setting. So, in the context of fine art photography – I take pictures of stuff in my yard.
I'm featuring two bodies of work, one titled Suburban, and another project, Encroachment, about the landscape in flux. Tyler also has an engaging blog, that reflects his creativity and thought processes.
Images from Suburban
From the time I unpacked my belongings, the suburbs have influenced the way I live my life. It only made sense to try to distill the suburban experience into images. The results are disjointed at times, but there is a common thread. Yard, work, pleasure, leisure. These images may very well be an expansion of work done in the past. I reference my idols and use my own turf as the backdrop. It is a loosely defined narrative about life on a fifth acre.
Home ownership brings on a set of rituals and routines that shape the way I live my life. The weekend is a beginning and and end. The work week blends into the weekend, yard work blends into relaxation. From the start I have been skeptical of my membership. The way we tend to our home compared to the others around us seems to be a little out of sync. I don’t intend to homogenize myself, I want to sink my hooks into what everyone else is doing and modify some behavior. If ‘Suburban Renewal’ hasn’t been coined as a term, I would like be the first to use it. There is a lot right and a lot wrong with the suburbs. It is a conflicted place.
Images from Encroachment
I might be a part of the problem. I stopped thinking of the edge of town as a problem and more as just a unique space. It is a landscape in flux. The agricultural land that borders any town is always subject to change. The value as cropland can swing towards more valued uses. My community, Sun Prairie, has been steadily growing for a couple of decades. Since 2000, the population has increased 24 percent. My neighborhood was a part of that boom. It is a large subdivision, detached from most of the town. Construction is done here and many of the homes are about 10 years old now. In between our borders and the rest of the town is a patchwork of strip malls, stores and empty lots, much of the space is still being farmed.
Three years ago I became interested in the edge of town. I did a photographic study of various local communities. Originally I think I was doing it in protest. I have since realized that you can’t stop progress. What I can do is work on the inside, and talk with neighbors near and far about what we can do to tweak our own land use.
The product is a set of panoramic images, they depict the changing edge. There is a clashing of aesthetics, the rural and the suburban.
The dimensions of these images vary, in the name of consistency I have been making them 5 feet long. The black and white images are the original studies. My first images were done on 4×5 sheet film, and later I moved to color imagery, utilizing multiple digital images to create one long image. I have been revisiting this concept and I will add new images as I get them put together. Now I am doing them as a preservation, a broad snapshot of a place in a state of change.